The world crystalised round a thought, a mountain grew, quantazised and grainy. ‘It looks like Mount Shamish’ I whispered in a voice that echoed pixilation.

‘It is constructed from your memories’ the ghost beside me said. Her voice was clear and strong but there was no reverb, the air swollowed the sound leaving me with a deathly after taste.

‘Am I dead?’ I asked.

The ghost smiled. ‘You don’t have to think like that anymore,’ I nodded but the sky was making my mind squirm. I could feel something beyond – a chittering. Voices of thought, not my own but pressing at my existance.

Feelings wrapped around me like ribbons, thoughts and snatches of songs. I tried to grab them back. Fear choked me as I watched the sky swollow them.

‘Do not fret so,’ said the apparition next to me, ‘they are not lost to you, they surfaced from you and are simply being… shared.’ The ghost seemed realier as if my thoughts were being absorbed into her. She blushed and stared at me with eyes less transparent. A little crooked smile appeared on her face as if I’d blinked but I was sure that I hadn’t, ‘I knew it!’ she announced.

The burn of embarrasement stemed my fear as I examined my errant thoughts, daydreams and fantasis, every stray desire I had had for her… before and after her death. These danced in coloured blurs around her. A loathsome shame filled me and I fell on my knees, a sadness seeped into her.

‘You saved me and I saved you,’ she said gently, ‘those rules do not apply here,’ her voice had turned to a brittle ice at the end of the sentence.

‘I saved you?’ I asked and shocked my head, ‘no I condemned you, I broke my own heart because it was what you wanted! I am wrong to have had such thought but love I can not control. My actions I could have’

She snorted, ‘alot of those felt a lot more carnel than love.’

I stood out of shock though the process by how I came to be back on my feet had blinked out of existance, ‘You felt them?’ it was almost a startled cry half anxiety, half excitement.

‘Of course’ she shrugged, I was dismissed by the gesture but an unease within was growing.

‘You rescued me?’ I asked at last having processed what had been said.

‘Your brain was dying, they hit you hard’ She was no longer making eye contact with me but staying into the distance.

I looked around me properlly for the first time, ‘I am… inside?’

‘Yes I controlled the cables’ An image shimmered in the air, layers of curly hair, blood oozing and a cable of lights snaked around and entering thought the nose, my nose.

‘I’m still alive!’ I felt horror grab at my gut.

‘Not in that body you aren’t’ she said quietly.

‘No! Not possible,’ I felt giddy as if I had climbed up the mountain too fast.

‘It is’ was all she said infuriating me.

‘But I am a Flesher! I have no implaints! We’re not even allowed replacement organs. This…. this is impossible’ I was boiling with rage but curiousity was burning hotter.

‘Fleshers still drink the water and eat the food. Implants can be ingested and grow in place. Don’t get the rage,’ she said carmly as if it were no more than an arguement over her borrowing my coat ‘Did you really think Virtualists would allow all that waste of life?’

My indignation was growing and I hated her, ‘Fleshers believe in the WHOLE soul you know that!’ I spat, ‘to do this! To force them to live virtually…. I should have helped them’ I stood bleakly staring at her.

And she? She was still smiling calmly, staring away at the distance.

‘You missunderstand, it is for them who ask, for those who cry on their death bed, for those who regret not having the implants.’

‘And if they are right?’ I asked acidically.

‘Then such a creator will be over thrown by their own slefish childness.’ she paused, ‘you refer to them not us?’

I hesitated and then shrugged, ‘I would have liked better eyes, I was going to convert to a soft flesher once my perants were gone.’

‘And yet your friends were not even born again fleshers were they? I always wondered about that.’

I sighed, she was right my friends had been virtualists plus two AI’s though even she did not know of them. virtualists could be funny about Coder-Life more so than fleshers ever were.

‘But I didn’t ask Jacks’ I said eventually.

‘I know and I was forbidden to intervien, they will come for me soon,’ she said quietly and far too calmly.

‘Come for you?’ I asked fear gripping my non-existant stomache.

She nodded and pointed to the mountain, bits of it were breaking off and scuttling towards her. I felt a revolution, the system would attack her, destroy her.

‘No it will not do that… I will be… isolated’ she was quivering with fear now and I felt helpless, I couldn’t let anything happen to her, I felt her emotions pulse into me, obliterating my own thought stream.

‘Isolated?’ I asked, ‘you are part of the Collective?’ I may have been a Flesher by upbringing but I was a mathermatician bu nature and the worlds of computers and AI’s and the Collective could not have remained completed segregated from me even if I had tried and I hadn’t I’d sort it out hadn’t I? So juicy and forbidden was it, something to intrigue me. I’d studdied as much as was permissible and stollen moments of what was not and gleaned as much as was possible for one with out implants and a jack into the info archives.

‘Always’ she said ‘even before… transition.’ I nodded that ment there was an awareness of everything else within the system for her, something akin to our ancestors idea of telepathy. Jacks had responded to my thoughts not my words, my inner musings, they were after all just information for the decoding. I felt sick.

‘I thought once you were connected removal was impossible? I thought there was always a back up?’ I almost choked on these words so blasphamous to me, the idea that a copy was you but now I was a copy. Surely that was what I was, it was however not all I was, I was… a ME.

‘They can shut you down and leave you dormant or… or they can isolate you, oh sure there will be dormant copies of me which they may decide to release to process within the system but they wont be me,’ she laughed, ‘never thought I would have so much in common with you fleshers!’ she sniggered unpleasently, it was tinged with mania, ‘you see you fleshers were sort of right you know. Copies are new versions – new lives. That’s why implants are so important, they are not just models of the brain they slowely become the brain!’

I shuddered sickened to my center of being but not for the reason I felt I should be, not my Flesherness but the thought that an enterty that had been ammalgameated into such a pan-councousness how would it feel to be small and individual once more?

‘You go insane!’ I mumbled.

‘Yes’ she replied

‘Why! Why did you do it?’ I sobbed.

‘Why did you defend the base?’

‘Because you were in it! Because I… I love you!’ she smiled and nodded.

‘And you’she said ‘knew they would hurt you! At the very least you would have been Ostracized from your family’ I found myself nodding though that discription made it sound like I had thought about the consequences of the whole affair. Something I most definatly hadn’t the whole thing had been pure reaction, well all of it except conforming to Jacks’ will, that I could have stopped. I could have sort help and easliy found it, I could have prevented her from being uploaded. I had wanted too but it was not my decission to make.

‘No’ she said sadly, ‘you could not have stopped me being uploaded, you may have thought you had if you’d tried but the implants, the bits with the important stuff on can survive the temperatures of insinerators. I would have just laid dormant until a recovery crew found me. She turned a too bright smiled on me, it hurt, she was more than solid now.

‘What matters is that you didn’t try,’ she said gently.

I nodded distracted by great distorted shapes that had reared themselves uo and were cantering along the binary horizon. ‘You can’t let them take you!’ I shrieked grabbing her hand.

‘There is no where to run’ she said slowely.

A groteques head loomed at them it was sat upon a gelatonous mass. It opened it’s mishapen mouth and uttered light shafts, these seemed to be streaming into Jacks and she was pulsing with it. She turned to me and with a desperate sensation I felt the words ‘I did it for love’

‘Stop! Stop!’ I screamed, ‘I told her I wanted to be uploaded!’ It was a desperate lie but I could not take this, I could not let her go but a lie in the Collective can not work. She held out a glowing limb to me, I clutched at it but it seemed such a frail in substantial thing.

‘Don’t leave me!’ I horseley exclaimed, fear sliced my mine, this place for eternity without her… that… now that truelly was worse than death.

A crab legged baby sidled up to me, ‘Do you choose exile?’ it asked, the tone was strangly echoey as if other words were being said but the idea of all the varients I could… taste, were the same.

‘To be with her?’ I asked my throat dry in a place of no water and no throat, my mind spun, ‘I need’ her I whined.

The creatures seemed to stall, to freeze momentarily and then they were dimming, Jacks was floating pulling me up. I reached up my other hand and pushed off from the non-existant ground and we were dancing in warm light that bathed us to the core. Fearful I dreamt of a kiss she smiled and touched me lips with hers ‘no boundaries here.’ she whispered, I fell into her and we became a we, we became a silken moment of thoughts weaved and meshed, never to be seperated. Horror landed us, ‘The Fleshers’ I cried into the isolation, ‘They will destroy us!’

‘No’ she said simply, ‘They do not have the eternities of within – time is different here. Plus there are back-ups’

‘But they still could…’ I began

‘It does not matter’ and she showed me time for us stretched through out the machine, eons in microseconds, eternities within eternities. We would live lives, extreme and subtle and the landscape of our thoughts stretched out before me. I wondered if I would resent the Collective intruding after such an isolation. Here and now and always me and Jacks were the universe.

Posted: Thursday, August 9th, 2012 @ 2:08 pm
Categories: Short Stories.
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